New warning about SUVs' climate toll

Reproduced from IEA; Note: Other passenger cars refers to internal combustion passenger cars excluding SUVs; Chart: Axios Visuals

A new International Energy Agency analysis looks at carbon emissions from the global growth in SUV sales and calls it "nothing short of surprising."

Why it matters: Wringing carbon out of transportation is vital to fighting climate change and that's going to be harder if SUV sales keep growing fast.

The big picture: SUVs were the second-biggest contributor to CO2 emissions growth after electric power during the period from 2010 to 2018, the analysis shows.

SUV growth is eclipsing gains from improving mileage in smaller vehicles and the emergence of EVs (which are currently a tiny slice of global sales), IEA said.

Threat level: "If consumers’ appetite for SUVs continues to grow at a similar pace seen in the last decade, SUVs would add nearly 2 million barrels a day in global oil demand by 2040, offsetting the savings from nearly 150 million electric cars," IEA said.

By the numbers: There are over 200 million SUVs on the roads worldwide, up from roughly 35 million in 2010, according to IEA.

  • In 2010-2018, SUVs accounted for all of the 3.3 million barrels a day of growth in oil demand from passenger cars.